TDC recommends $950,000 for water taxi

TDC recommends $950,000 for water taxi
Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Elliott Falcione asked the Manatee County Tourist De- velopment Council to allocate $950,000 in resort tax and other revenues for the water taxi initiative. - Jason Schaffer | Sun

BRADENTON – The Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC) unanimously voted on Nov. 4 to recommend that Manatee County commissioners allocate up to $950,000 in resort tax revenue to help fund a water taxi initiative.

Commissioners unanimously supported the initiative in October. The service is planned to run from its core stop just east of the Green Bridge in Bradenton to the City Pier in Anna Maria, then go south to the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach and finally to the South Coquina Boat launch. The water taxi will run Friday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

TDC members cited funding from three sources – the county resort tax, beach concession revenues and the Coquina Beach Market, which Manatee County recently began operating.

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Executive Director Elliott Falcione said the TDC also will be seeking federal and state grants for the project as well, but those may not be available until the service is in operation.

“At this time, we hope to be ordering the vessels within the next few weeks,” Falcione said. “It’s going to be two 49- or 50-passenger pontoon-style vessels that will be about 50 feet in length.”

Falcione said they will be using a Florida-based boat builder, but could not give an accurate estimate on how long the construction would take. He cited supply problems that are causing issues in many construction industries for not being able to give a completion date.

Falcione said they also are working on a service that could transport employees from the mainland directly to the Island, alleviating problems they have with parking, which is especially difficult during the busy spring tourist season.